The Beach, Reached

Published 2008-05-18

First of course: a hearty thank you to everyone who contributed to my Reach the Beach effort. I raised $125 for the American Lung Association, busting my goal by $25. (As a colleague expert in fundraising noted: “You need bigger goals”).

I had a fantastic ride. The weather cooperated beautifully — I’ve never experienced a Reach the Beach that was so sunny. The only downsides to the sun and heat were a risk of sunburng, and I suppose a person is probably not at peak performance when you’re hot (this is especially true when climbing.)

Speaking of climbing: the ride organizers added a new section for 2008. (Actually they substituted a new section, but you get my meaning). Previous rides, after reaching Sherwood, directed bikes onto Highway 99 into Newberg. This was not as bad as it sounds ... the shoulder here is wide, and it makes for a long, steady descent into the Tualatin valley.

In lieu of this trek down 99W, this year we climbed up Kruger road onto the west end of the Chehalem hills — a grueling 900 foot climb followed by a quick descent onto Bell Road in the valley. Simply put, this piece of Oregon is perfect bicycling. Trees, views, low traffic, hellish climbs — oh yeah. On Bell Road — a long, straight piece of asphault whose terrain pretty much epitomizes the term “rolling” — I reached my maximum speed on the ride, 40 mph. During one of the short rolling descents I stoked up instead of coasting, then powered up the next hill, cresting it at this enormous speed. I’ve never gone so fast under my own power.

The middle 50 miles of the ride were, as usual, my least favorite. This is the long long flat flat stretch between Dayton and Grande Ronde, with a lovely detour onto SR 18. (With construction on SR 18, however, the bikes were passing the cars. Ha!) Of course you’re eating the wind during this entire ride however which happens every year.

The back 25 (Grande Ronde to Pacific City) really tested my mettle. My average speed coming into Grande Ronde was 17.9 mph, not bad for a guy without a paceline. My average speed on the last leg was something like 14 or 15 mph (See “by the Numbers,” below. I had front-row seats for the usual circus on the last hard climb of the ride, a 150' climb over about a quarter mile a scant 10 miles to the finish. This would be a minor climb but for two complicating factors. First, it comes after the seasoned riders (those riding the century out of Portland) have already put 90 miles on their bikes, so the strong riders are tired. Second, everyone who rides RTB, regardless of their start point, will be topping this climb. In general, as you approach the beach, the quality of the riders and their bicycles drops, because there are more options for shorter, less-demanding rides. On this particular hill the net result is a lot of riders pushing their bikes to the top. In and of itself this is no big deal, but the marked gradient in abilities leads to cyclists (or rather “pedestrians with bicycles”) spread across the road, making it a little treacherous to thread one’s way through them. This year I saw a rider fall over on his bike because he was going too slow to maintain forward momentum (either that or he couldn’t downshift quickly enough for the climb.)

Jenny, Michelle, Bismarck and Sid met me at the finish line, which was a fine time I suppose but I’m getting tired of that part of organized rides. You know, the part with a sound system and waiting in line for pasta.

By The Numbers

  • Start time: 7:51 am
  • Finish time: 2:06 pm
  • Saddle time: 5:37:45
  • Final ODO: 98.29 mi. (WTF? The new start at Scholls elementary shaves off about 4 miles?)
  • Average speed: 17.4 mph
  • Max speed: 40 mph


I’ve created a Google Map with the route